Who is in Charge of Foreign Policy? The State Department or the White House?

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Dear all,

I hope this finds you well after the July 4th Independence Day weekend and I am sure you are back, hard at work.

I am writing to you to inform you about an extraordinary experience that my husband, Jonathan, and I were privileged to attend this past Wednesday. Let me start by telling you about an unsung American hero of which you are likely not familiar: Eliyahu Borochov, 22, of Cedarhurst, New York. We are old friends from when we were neighbors while we still lived in New York.

Eli and his parents and younger brother were brought to Israel by the US Department of Justice, Office of Victims of Overseas Terror. Eli was visiting Israel with his father and brother in November 2015 and was praying Friday night at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron during special Shabbat services. It was the Shabbat when we read the weekly portion of the Bible that discusses the purchase of the Cave of Machpela by our patriarch Abraham as a burial site for our biblical Matriarch, Sarah (this is ever so more relevant in light of the recent ridiculous UNESCO ruling that Hebron is not a Jewish holy site). He was shot by a pair of terrorist brothers known as “the Hebron snipers”. Fortunately, he was shot in the thigh. Eli required emergency surgery and several months of rehabilitation and recuperation but thankfully, there was no long-term physical damage.

The terrorists were apprehended thanks to the hard work of the IDF. One of them has pled guilty to 12 counts of attempted murder and weapons possession. Eli was brought to Israel to deliver his statement to the judges at the IDF military court during the sentencing portion of the trial as a victim of terror perpetrated by these terrorists. Eli stood to face the terrorists that shot him and he delivered his words masterfully. He showed strength of character and poise well beyond his 22 years.

Eli spoke about this traumatic experience, about being shot, about his recovery and the lasting psychological apprehension with which he still deals. More importantly, he emphasized to the court that he was shot for only one reason: he was shot because he was a Jew. A Jew at prayer. He declared that despite the terrifying incident, he would never be afraid to pray anywhere in Israel and has proven that, already coming back to Israel exactly one year later with his family to pray in Hebron on the same special Shabbat this past year. The terrorists showed no remorse and were even smirking and laughing during the whole proceedings. Still, Eli stood strong and proud and faced the perpetrators face to face. Unfortunately the defense lawyer asked for a delay in sentencing for a week which was ultimately granted. Eli, the Department of Justice and the other victims of terror will have to wait until the final verdict is handed down, hopefully soon.

Jonathan and I came to the military court to show support to our friends. It was difficult to look into the face of terror and see zero remorse. But it was incredible and we were almost incredulous about how stringent about honest justice the military court system is here in Israel. Each and every accused person is provided a fair trial with defense representation – usually a public defender funded by the Palestinian Authority. There is simultaneous translation provide by an IDF officer from Hebrew to Arabic during all the court proceedings. Everything is recorded by court stenographers meticulously- at one point, the judge, reading the proceedings on a computer in real time, corrected the stenographer on a spelling mistake. Eli and his family were treated with the utmost respect by the judges and prosecution. When Eli spoke in English, the judges (there are 3 present at every trial and there are no juries in the Israeli justice system, both military and civil) all fluent in English, listened while another IDF officer translated quietly into Hebrew to the IDF translator who then translated into Arabic for the defense and defendants.

Eli and his family were joined by a Department of Justice lawyer who was quite disappointed that the defense did not present anything as he himself was quite prepared… They also were joined by 2 representatives from the US consulate in Jerusalem, Department of Civil Services. They too were supportive and helpful.

What I was very surprised to realize is the actual nature of US government representation here in Israel. On one hand, we have the US embassy in Tel Aviv with a newly appointed Ambassador David Friedman. However there were no representatives of the embassy present at the trial; they cannot be there. As the incident took place in Judea and Samaria, and the trial was in the military court of Judea, the government body providing service to US citizens is solely the US consulate of Jerusalem. This consulate answers directly to the State Department and has no elected or government appointed personnel. It leads me to ask who is directing US foreign policy out of the US consulate? And why is there such a drain of taxpayer money as this is the only country where there are 2 consulates: one in Tel Aviv working out of the embassy and ultimately the US government and a consulate in Jerusalem, working for the State Department. Is it the State Department that has jurisdiction over foreign policy? Who do they represent? There is a duality of many positions as services provided to US citizens in Tel Aviv are also provided by personnel in Jerusalem. There are even two separate July 4th US Independence Day events! To me, it seems to be a serious waste of taxpayer money.

I will follow up with issues of which I have become aware in the last week of research in regard to the Jerusalem Consulate’s dealings with Israeli US citizens living in the areas of Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem. Until then, I want to applaud Eli Borochov and his family for standing tall in the face of terrorism and for walking away, not a victim but a victor, a winner against the evil scourge of terror.

With warm wishes for a fruitful and enjoyable summer,

Respectfully,
Sarah

***
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